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The Definitive Piano Buying Guide for
Pianos made by: Pearl River
In the late 1980s, Darrell Fandrich, RPT, an engineer, pianist, and piano technician, developed a vertical piano action designed to play like a grand, for which 10 patents were issued. In July 2013, a new patent application was filed in the U.S. (along with an application for future international patents) on an improved version of the action. The improvement features use of a grand-piano knuckle, and results in improved touch and repetition, and the feel of aftertouch at the bottom of the keystroke.
You can see an illustration of the original Fandrich Vertical Action™, an explanation of how it works, and some history of its development in the third and fourth editions of The Piano Book and on the Fandrich & Sons website. Since 1994, Fandrich and his wife, Heather, have been installing Renner-made Fandrich actions in selected new pianos, selling them under the Fandrich & Sons label. They also sell some grands (with regular grand actions) under that name.
Over the years, the Fandrichs have installed their actions in over 300 instruments, including ones from Bohemia, Feurich, Klima, Pearl River, Wilh. Steinberg, and Steingraeber. At present, the action is being installed in 52" Pearl River uprights featuring Lothar Thomma scale designs (under the Fandrich & Sons label), and, by special order, in 51" Steingraeber uprights (under the Steingraeber & Söhne label). The converted pianos are available directly from the Fandrichs, as well as from their Canadian representative, in Montreal (contact the Fandrichs for information).
Playing a piano outfitted with a Fandrich Vertical Action is a very interesting experience. The action easily outperforms that of most other vertical pianos on the market, and some grands as well. The Fandrichs have now had 25 years of experience in refining and servicing the action, and reports suggest that customers are very satisfied with them.
Fandrich & Sons grand pianos are manufactured in China by the Pearl River Piano Group. These pianos feature Lothar Thomma scale designs, and are remanufactured at the Fandrich & Sons facility in Stanwood, Washington. The company offers three sizes of grand piano — models 170 (5' 7"), 188 (6' 2"), and 212 (7') — in two configurations: Standard (S) and Enhanced (E), the latter with Heller bass strings from Germany and/or Abel hammers, depending on customer preference. The tone of the S model is said to be powerful, dark, and sonorous; the E model, in contrast, is more brilliant and transparent. All models feature precision touchweighting using the Fandrich-Rhodes Weightbench™ system, which enables precise control of action inertia as well as traditional up- and downweight; redesigned pedal-lyre and trapwork systems; and a very extensive high-end preparation.
For those who wish a better musical experience at a lower cost, the Fandrichs also sell two vertical piano models with traditional actions that also receive the same high-end musical preparation as the more expensive models. The 46" model 118S and the 48" model 122 are designed by Lothar Thomma and built by Pearl River. All Fandrich & Sons pianos come with a matching bench.
The Fandrichs are passionate about their craft and choose the brands they work with carefully for musical potential. In addition to making standard modifications and refinements to remedy perceived shortcomings in the original Chinese-made instruments, the Fandrichs are inveterate tinkerers always searching for ways to make additional improvements, however subtle. As a result, many who play the pianos find them to be considerably more musical than their price and origin would suggest.
Warranty: 12 years, parts and labor, to original purchaser.
Note: Do not confuse the Fandrich & Sons pianos with the 48" Fandrich upright that was once manufactured with a Fandrich Vertical Action by Darrell Fandrich's brother, Delwin Fandrich. That piano has not been made since 1994.
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